Friday, April 08, 2016

Dog Walkers Snarl at National Park Service

Dog owners sued the National Park Service for records on a new rule that will restrict dog walking in the 80,000-acre Golden Gate National Recreation Area in three Bay Area counties. Save Our Recreation and three dog-owner groups sued the National Park Service and Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell on Wednesday in Federal Court, demanding information and an injunction. The Park Service's proposed dog management rule restricts on- and off-leash dog walking to 22 sites in the 80,000-acre park that includes areas of San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties. The groups say the Park Service had been "maneuvering to radically reduce" dog walkers' access to the park for more than a decade before it issued its proposed rule on Feb. 24. After proposing dog restrictions in 2014, the park submitted to a public process engineered to "legitimize" its "pre-determined radical reduction" in access for dog walkers, the plaintiffs say. The comment period for the new rule ends May 25. The dog walkers say the Park Service has not responded to a Freedom of Information Act request filed last year, in a deliberate attempt to stop them from "meaningfully participating" in the rulemaking process. "It is apparent that as part of its long-term 'strategy,' NPS has decided to delay production of and keep from public view certain records because it does not want those records to be used in connection with the public comment process for the Proposed Dog Rule, or in connection with potential future lawsuits challenging the various decisions of NPS to unlawfully restrict and reduce dog walking."...more

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